My favourite blog at the moment is Lenin's Tomb. Lenin has a great breadth of coverage - I'm always marking his posts saying to myself "I should write about strikes in South Africa" and then I never do.
So I was delighted to see that Lenin's Tomb had responded to Katha Pollitt who was in turn responding to Alexander Cockburn.*
Alexander Cockburn started by quoting Lawrence McGuire:
"I was reading a recent piece by Phyllis Bennis recently. She talked about the 'US military casualties' and the 'Iraqi civilian victims' and it struck me that the grand taboo of the antiwar movement is to show the slightest empathy for the resistance fighters in Iraq. They are never mentioned as people for whom we should show concern, much less admiration.I probably disagree with this argument - but mostly because I think the American anti-war movement has far bigger problems (they rhyme with Pemocratic Darty). But Katha Pollitt almost made me change my mind:
"But of course, if you are going to sympathize with the US soldiers, who are fighting a war of aggression, than surely you should also sympathize with the soldiers who are fighting for their homeland. Perhaps not until the antiwar movement starts to some degree recognizing that they should include 'the Iraqi resistance fighters' in their pantheon of victims (in addition to US soldiers and Iraqi civilians) will there be the necessary critical mass to have a real movement."
So, okay, call me ignorant: The Iraqi resistance isn't dominated by theocrats, ethnic nationalists, die-hard Baathists, jihadis, kidnappers, beheaders and thugs?What made me so angry was the way Katha Pollitt dismissed the Iraqi armed resistance out of hand, as if the idea of supporting people fighting in self-defence was too ridiculous to take seriously.**
I wanted to respond, but got distracted in the face of research that would prove that Iraqis who want self-determination aren't just: "theocrats, ethnic nationalists, die-hard Baathists, jihadis, kidnappers, beheaders and thugs?" Luckily Lenin has done it all for me. He's responded to Katha Pollitt, and then put together information about what the armed resistance is actually like.
My position is a little different from Lenin's.*** In order to actively support any sort of resistance group I want to know how they treat their own people, and what sort of world they want to build. But it's an academic question, because I have nothing the Iraqi resistance needs. As Lenin (the blogger) said:
A little humility would compel her to recognise that the Iraqi resistance is doing far more to frustrate American imperialism than then American left is. The resistance is supporting us. It is their courageous insistence on combatting an enemy with immense death-dealing power, confronting them in the streets despite years of savage murder, despite the prospect of incineration and shredding, that is causing Bush's unpopularity.The fact that I'm not prepared to support any particular Iraqi resistance group shouldn't obscure the most basic point - I want the Iraqi resistance to win. I want the US to get the hell out of Iraq, and not to be capable of leaving a puppet government behind us. Any other outcome will give the people who rule America more power and the people who are fighting them less.
* I'll be the first to acknowledge that not all Alexander Cockburn's arguments are worth thinking about seriously - particularly not his climate change arguments, which I haven't paid enough attention to accurately summarise, but have paid enough attention to to know they're stupid.
** I take these discussions so seriously I once started a pool at what the ratio of male/female speakers would be at a meeting on our attitudes towards the Iraqi armed resistance.
*** That's Lenin the blogger, although I'm guessing my position is also different from Lenin the Revolutionary leader.